John Rocker peddles “the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened if the Jews had guns” nonsense

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Here’s your quarterly reminder that former baseball person John Rocker is a sick and/or crazy person.

Rocker has devoted his latest column on that right wing website he writes for to gun rights stuff. Which is fine in and of itself. Gun rights are a hot topic these days and there are a lot of reasonable positions one can take on the subject even when vehemently disagreeing with someone else who is also offering an alternative reasonable take.

Unfortunately, Rocker is not offering a reasonable take. He’s peddling second-hand talking points from crazy people:

“Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.”

Despite this being a popular talking point by some on the right wing, this is demonstrably false. Gun ownership was never widespread in Germany, even when there were few if any controls on people’s rights to own firearms. To suggest, then, that the Holocaust was made possible by the lack of armed Jews is pure nonsense on the facts alone.

More significantly, Rocker’s nonsense here downplays if not ignores the fact that it was not some tangential gun policy that led to the Holocaust, but the actual policy of implementing the Holocaust which led to the Holocaust. Jews were not targets of opportunity by the Nazis, seized upon because, hey look, they’re unarmed. They were intentionally and systematically targeted for persecution and extermination by the government, which had millions of troops under its command, armed with state-of-the-art weaponry. To suggest that some “Red Dawn”-style uprising would have prevented the Nazis from committing their crimes against humanity is pure, facile revenge fantasy, the likes of which can only be espoused by a person who has no experience with persecution.

Or maybe it’s worse. Perhaps Rocker and his ilk really don’t think that armed Jews would have stopped the Nazis and, instead, are cynically using the Holocaust as a prop in the latest act of political theater. Perhaps they view the Holocaust as a useful and emotionally-laden example with which to guilt, shame or manipulate their opponents in a modern day political dustup.

If so, it’s more despicable than it is ignorant. Way more despicable than anything the younger Rocker told Jeff Pearlman in that interview that got him into trouble back in the 90s.

(link via Deadspin)

Yoenis Cespedes should be ready for Tuesday’s game

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The Mets are off today, and that day off may be just enough to get outfielder Yoenis Cespedes ready to start their next game, on Tuesday, against the Braves. At least that’s what he’s telling Mets manager Terry Collins.

Cespedes did not play in the weekend series against the Nationals, but was available as a pinch hitter yesterday. He was even on the on-deck circle at the end of last night’s game.

Cespedes, who tweaked his hammy running to second base on Thursday, is hitting .255/.364/.636 with six homers and 10 RBI in 15 games on the young season.

Marcus Stroman was called for an illegal quick pitch for some reason

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A “quick pitch” is an illegal action in which the pitcher pitches the ball before the batter is prepared. What makes a quick pitch a quick pitch? According to Rule 6.02(a)(5), it’s this:

 . . . Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.

There are a couple of reasons why you don’t want quick pitches in baseball. In one respect, it’s about safety, as mentioned specifically in the rule. You don’t want a pitcher throwing a 90 m.p.h. fastball in the batter’s general direction if he’s not ready for it, because if it goes off course the batter will have no ability to defend himself and bail. But there’s also a spirit-of-the-game reason for it. The essence of baseball is the face-off between batter and pitcher. While everyone wants the game to move along promptly, the game isn’t really the game if the batter isn’t ready.

There is more art than science to all of this, of course, as all batters and pitchers have different pre-pitch routines, but when you watch a game, there’s a rhythm to all of that. You know the batter is gonna take a couple of practice swings and settle in. The pitcher tends to respect that. The quick pitch rule is rarely invoked for this reason.

It was used in yesterday’s Angels-Blue Jays game, however. And used badly in my view. Watch Marcus Stroman pitch to Kole Calhoun. The ump is Ramon DeJesus. The count was 3-1, so the automatic ball resulted in Calhoun being awarded first base:

Calhoun was obviously upset about something, calling time after Stroman is into his motion (which is not allowed) throwing his hands up and stuff after the pitch. But tell me, in what way was he not “reasonably ready” for that pitch, to use the language of the rule? He’s facing Stroman, looking at him. He’s done with his warmup swings, his bat is up and cocked and he’s standing in hitting position. I understand that it’s a judgment call by the umpire, but it seems to me like the umpire just called time too late because Calhoun didn’t feel ideally comfortable or something.

Either way, it set off Stroman and manager John Gibbons. Gibbons was ejected arguing the call. Stroman, who was otherwise excellent yesterday, was rattled for a bit, giving up a couple of hits and a run afterward. It was Calhoun who scored, natch.

It didn’t affect the outcome, but it certainly seemed like a bad call. And possibly a bad precedent, as batters may now try to lobby harder for quick pitch calls, given its success yesterday. Or, if umpires tend to think that was a bad call too, maybe they’ll overcompensate for it and be less likely to call quick pitches? You never know how this stuff will play out.

Whatever happens, I’ve been against Major League Baseball’s habit of increasingly taking judgment calls away from umpires, trying to make the subjective objective and making a flawed instant replay system the Supreme Court of Baseball Calls. But jeez, it’s hard to argue for allowing umps to hold on to judgment calls when they blow ’em like this.